Small Form-Factor Devices to Take Center Stage at WinHEC

Next-gen mini-Tablet PC/eBook hybrid, available in the 'post-Longhorn' timeframe, could be the star of this week's Microsoft show.

SEATTLE—While this years Windows Hardware Engineering Conference here will be heavily focused on 64-bit processing, it also will serve as a showcase for new kinds of smaller, portable laptop and Tablet PC devices.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who is slated to deliver the Monday morning kickoff keynote address for the show—which is expected to be attended by more than 2,800 hardware and software developers—will show off three new "inherently mobile and connected" small form-factor devices, company officials said.

In addition, on Tuesday, Bill Mitchell, Microsoft vice president of mobile platforms, is on the docket to discuss "Trends and Opportunities for Tomorrows Mobile PC" at WinHEC.

Today, Gates is scheduled to show off a new Acer Inc. "ultra-portable laptop convertible"; an ASUS Computer International laptop featuring an auxiliary display; and a hybrid mini-Tablet PC/eBook combination device that is still in prototype phase, officials said.

The Acer and ASUS machines are meant to showcase Longhorn, the next version of Windows, which is due to ship in 2006. The hybrid mini-Tablet PC/eBook system is a "post-Longhorn" device, according to Greg Sullivan, lead product manager for Microsofts Windows client team.

Gates will use the Acer machine to show off how the improved "instant-on" technology in Longhorn will work, Sullivan said. By taking advantage of newly supported hybrid flash/magnetic disk drives, Longhorn will be able to boot up more quickly, as well as consume less battery power, Sullivan said.

Gates will demonstrate how auxiliary displays—a new type of graphics display technology—could work by demonstrating the ASUS laptop prototype.

But the likely star of the small form-factor show at WinHEC will be a new hybrid Tablet/eBook device that has been making the demonstration rounds on Microsofts Redmond, Wash., campus as of late.

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